Haunted Manor

They lived here for real many centuries ago. Today, they are ghosts. Right now, under my nose. Or, rather, if the truth is known, they live for real today and many centuries ago their ghosts lived here. Real people as the eventual fulfilment-in-flesh of their earlier ghosts. In many ways, that seems to be the most logical order of things. For centuries, people have believed we precede our ghosts, while all along ghosts preceded us. But that begs a question – where is here? It is Haunted Manor on A12 between Colchester and Chelmsford – once well known for receiving visitors on day trips, but, today, a near-forgotten hulk where the old family – now on hard times – manages to cling on. I am their only member of staff: a man-with-many-tricks-of-the-trade, they call me. A do-it-all who haunts the Manor in body, mending broken things and, if the truth be known, breaking things so that I can mend them again. Indeed, I do jobs not only for the old family but also for the even older one – trying to match up the old with the less old when and where they happen to coincide in the same part of the Manor. That’s what I call mending things: introducing people to themselves – across time. 

You may wonder whether I have managed to coincide with myself across the centuries in the Manor that haunts the older version of itself. Except when it was older, it was, of course, newer. Which goes for us all, I guess. And tonight is the night when I shall mend myself. I shall discover the broken body with the knife I placed into its chest so very long ago. And then I shall slowly, ever so slowly, withdraw the knife – trying not to hurt him, watching the smile return to his mouth before I can even realise he is trying to smile – trying to smile at me. And as he does so, I feel tears arrive in my eyes – and I plunge the same knife into my own chest. And the noise of traffic from the A12 slowly fades.